I’m Proud of You

When was the last time you heard the words, “I’m proud of you?”

If you’re like me, you’ve heard plenty of “Nice job”, “Good one”, and “That’s cool!” Though those are great encouragements to hear, they don’t carry the same weight as someone saying “I’m proud of you.” When someone takes the time to say what you’ve done brings them great pride, it’s quite heartwarming.

For many people, the last time they heard the words “I’m proud of you” came when they were a child. In fact, children most likely hear that phrase all the time. 

When they potty for the first time by themselves, “I’m proud of you!”

When they draw within the lines, “I’m proud of you!”

When they get an A on their homework, “I’m proud of you!”

It’s not any less genuine when we tell children, nor is it uncomfortable when we tell them that truth. Yet commonly when we tell people as an adult, “I’m proud of you” comes out as a joke. 

The last time you spoke this phrase to someone else did you didn’t say it sarcastically? I know I did! I have a habit of only saying it in my sarcastic voice as a joke to the person I’m congratulating for what was likely a menial task.  

If I’m honest, the last time I remember saying it to someone seriously was about four or five years ago. I distinctly remember what happened when I said it. I felt so awkward. 

They had just completed a fundraiser at a local school which raised bunches of money. For what, I don’t exactly remember. When I attended the fundraiser as a way to support my friend, I was genuinely surprised by how large the function was. The turnout was high, the donations were higher. Everything went smoothly. 

Everything went according to my friend’s plan. 

I was thoroughly impressed with the classiness and organization of the entire fundraiser! Yet, throughout the whole event, I didn’t tell my friend I was proud of her work. Oh, sure I said, “This is cool,” and, “Wow, what an event!” But nothing to tell her I took pride in her and in her work. 

I waited until I left. I got into my car and started driving back to my place. On the way, I started thinking about the brevity of what my friend did. I thought about how much time she took out of her life volunteering to put everything together and the money she raised! 

I was genuinely proud of her. 

At that moment, I called her. There was no answer, which made it a relief for me. I left a voice message that said something along the lines of, “Hey, the event you put on tonight, was really cool. I don’t know if I can say this, but I’m proud of you. You put in the work and it came out excellently!”

I’m not sure why it felt so awkward to say that. I’m not even certain why I felt as if I didn’t have permission to say it either. In fact, I’m not sure why I had to take a deep breath just to muster the courage to say it on a voice message. 

I don’t think I say it genuinely enough to people. I also know I don’t hear it enough. 

In fact, I remember one of the few times I heard it in my adolescence, I responded with disdain. “Why?” I felt like I had done nothing worthy of pride. I didn’t feel as though I deserved recognition for my efforts. I felt unaccepting of this person’s pride for me. 

I guess that’s the thing about being worthy and deserving, they’re not feelings, they are things you are. Whether you “feel” worthy or not, you are. You are. 

Not hearing a lot of compliments growing up, I became an adult that was quite averse to receiving any type of praise. “I’m not good with receiving compliments,” I’d say to people when they attempted to give me one. If I didn’t believe I earned the praise, then in my mind, it shouldn’t be said. However, I’ve learned to change and to accept the praise, even if I don’t feel I deserve it. 

When a friend recently told me they were proud of me, I was happy to accept it. 

They too felt like it was awkward saying it and we are close enough that they told me it was awkward to say! With a chuckle, we discussed why it might be that we feel awkward went confessing pride for others. 

However, let me tell you, their words were not wasted. Even though I haven’t heard someone tell me genuinely they were proud of me in so long, I didn’t worry about if I had earned it or not. I wasn’t concerned with whether or not I had finished the task they were proud of me for; I simply was grateful. 

Grateful, that someone took time out of their day, to look at what I’ve done and recognize it as good; to take pride in what I was in the middle of, even if my actions would never affect them directly.

I think this is a part of the reason why we don’t tell each other “I’m proud of you,” too often. We’re caught up measuring our own success and searching for our achievements, we forget that every person around us is doing the same. We don’t recognize the growth around us because we’re likely comparing it to our own, hoping that we’re on top. People are going at their own pace and finding success in their own way, whether we recognize it or not.

I like to think that when we’re spreading good to one another, it’s taking a break from ourselves to recognize the work of another human. Maybe they’ve grown in maturity since you’ve first met them or perhaps you noticed they’ve found a nice flow to live their life. Or perchance, they’ve found their passion and are relentlessly chasing it. For others, I’m sure their ability to resist some temptations is reason enough to have pride in them. 

Whatever you’re currently working on, going through, or just finished your ‘thing’, let me to you, I’m proud of you. 

Persistence Leads Your Forward

Sometimes, I’m amazed at where persistence leads some individuals.

It’s absurd that we think that people just happen upon certain destinations or places in life. As if they lucked their way into where they are. We are more likely to believe in random good fortune bringing them there, rather than persistence and hard work paying off.

From time to time, I think of musicians, especially young ones.

Each day, I listen to my niece and nephew play the same songs over and over again. Though they play the same songs each day. To be frank, it doesn’t always sound good. Some days it sounds rushed. Other days it sounds like they’re just prolonging it because they are not paying attention to where they are in their music sheet. Yet, when the time comes for their test with their teacher or recital in front of so many people their performance sounds like actual music!

I’m impressed each time they play something and it sounds perfect.

Honestly, I am not sure why I’m impressed. Seriously, I see them play every single day. It makes no sense why I should be impressed at their end result. If they played once a week or month, then performed amazingly, then I should be impressed. Instead, each day, they’re playing these songs. Over and over again. I should expect their persistence to bring a great job in the end. 

They don’t always want to be persistent. That is most certain. Sometimes they pretend like they don’t know what they’re playing. Other times, they’ll go very slowly because they’re not paying attention to the sheet music and just lost in their imagination. Sometimes, they play at their parent’s persistence. Which is so key!

It is not always our persistence thank pushes us forward, at times its the persistence of others that pulls us forward.

Think of all the people that go to the gym alone. They work hard towards their goals, and when they persist, they achieve them. Now, think of all the people who go to the gym and get a trainer. They gain persistence, from someone keeping them accountable. That persistence helps them achieve their goal. Persistence is like that. 

This reminds me of a conversation I had with my sister. I asked her if 10 years ago she foresaw herself being where she is today. Without skipping a beat she plainly said, “Yes.”

I was caught off guard and surprised by her response. Most people cannot predict the future, so I wondered how she could so confidently see herself in this position of life 10 years before it happened.

“How can you say that so matter of factly?” I asked.

“I set goals and I work on them.” She responded in yet another matter-of-fact way.

I’ll admit, between the two of us, she is more straight to the point than I. I have the more flowery speech. After some nudging, she gave an explanation of her thought process.

“I saw myself here because this is where I want to be. I set out a path for myself, my marriage, and my family years ago. I agreed with my husband on where we wanted to be, what we wanted to be doing, and set the goals to get there. I am not surprised we’re here because we were persistent on each and every one of them.”


In more than one way, she has a point. Like I shouldn’t be surprised about my niece and nephew getting better at playing the piano, she should not be surprised at the result of her persistent goal setting.

I don’t think any of us should ever be surprised at the result of someone’s persistence. The place we are all in is from some sort of previous persistence.

The student persistently studying isn’t surprised when they earn good grades. A thief isn’t surprised when they are arrested, they persistently pursued that which wasn’t theirs. The person who takes time to learn about their family and spends time with them isn’t surprised that they are close to their family.

For my personal life, I shouldn’t be surprised that I am understanding more Spanish when I practice everyday. I shouldn’t be surprised when my podcast gains more listeners when I’m constantly posting it online for people to see. 

I also shouldn’t be surprised of my knowledge of the Marvel Cinematic Universe when I sit down and watch movie after movie twice or even three times. 

In a couple of weeks, I’ll be posting my goals for the year. Goals that I believe will take me places.

Goals that will take me to places I want, if I am persistent with them.

Live From A Van: Jay, Van Life & a Chess Board

Chess is one of the greatest games in existence. It’s so popular, there are movies about it, books teaching how to play, and strategies for life created from it. 

Chess also brings people together. Or at least, that’s what Jay used to meet new people. 

Traveling around is a lot of fun. Its great to learn from different cultures, have conversations with people, or even play a game with a stranger. You can even record a podcast with a stranger who becomes a friend by the end of the recording. (Wink, wink)

Jay and I met while living in Christchurch, New Zealand. At one point, he decided to buy a van travel around the country. No stranger to traveling around different countries, Jay was setting on a new adventure, starting with building the interior of the van he would live in. 

In this episode, Jay talks about what its like to travel around meeting people, and the time he traveled with a chess board and played people all around. 

This episode introduces a new segment at the end! Stay tuned for special travel tips 🙂 


You can listen on Spotify | Apple Podcasts | Anchor.fm

2021 Phrase of the Year

I am not going to make you wait until the end to know what the phrase is. My phrase of the year is “search for the opportunity.”

Allow me to explain.

I studied business at Azusa Pacific University. Four years of (mostly) overpriced classes as I soaked in as much information as I possibly could! Though I don’t remember every lesson taught to me in those years, I do remember this one: Somebody is making money.  

Hot off the US depression of 2008, my business professor attempted to wake the young minds by letting them know that there was money to be made; a fact that all business students were happy to know. At any given moment there was always somebody who was making money. Doesn’t matter if it’s high season, low season, or not even in season. There is a person out there, making money. It may not be the same person each time, but they exist and they are making it work. 

I think about this proverbial person a lot. 

Who are they? How did they get there? What are they doing now? Did they know they were the ones that would be making the money? When did their moment come and end? How did it end? Does it have to end?
These are just the start of my questions. Most importantly, my question is, how did they know to recognize the opportunity?

It’s difficult for me to think the person who is making money is the type of person sitting idle at home watching television or meddling in the affairs of others. I imagine this is the kind of person who is antsy to make some sort of move. They were the ones itching for a renovation of any sort. They are the people who started expanding into the unknown hoping to step onto any type of footing. 

These people were searching for opportunities from their very beginning.

I learned another lesson at Azusa Pacific’s School of Business. This one came from the mouth of my Information Technology professor. During my senior year, he told me, and the rest of the class, “you’re studying for jobs that exist. You should be studying for jobs that don’t exist.” 

Thanks for telling me after I invested all my money (and future money) into this education. 

Though I don’t recall his name, I remember his reasoning behind the strange phrase. The next innovation is just around the corner and will come before we know it. Whether it’s financial, technological, or social it’s already started and will change the entire market soon. There’s nothing we can do to stop it. New jobs will sprout from it; an entire workforce will be dedicated to this innovation. Yet, not a single person in this classroom is equipped for it. Even the jobs we are preparing for could be obsolete by this innovation. 

In simpler words: change is coming. The point he wanted to drive into each of us, was to be prepared for such change. Be prepared for this unexpected event. We might not know how it affects us until it does. What he wanted us to understand is that we cannot sit thinking we’re fine simply doing what we’re currently doing. No, not if we’re going to be the ones leading our industry. Not if we’re going to be the ones making a difference. 

We need to be the ones searching for the opportunity. 

Thus far, I find this post to be most encouraging for those of the entrepreneurial mindset. So allow me to write another lesson given to me. 

While attending Azusa Pacific University (yes, a third mention. I’ve been hit with the nostalgia bug recently), I blew off a meeting with a Biblical Studies professor and friend, Bobby Duke. I mentioned to him I wasn’t attending a mutual friend’s funeral because I was dealing with the death of my brother. I believe I responded with the words “I have a strange relationship with death right now.” My brother’s passing was plenty of years before my university days, but being in college, the same age he was when he passed, brought new mental struggles I had yet to face. Professor Duke responded to me with openness and honesty about his experience with death while attending university and offered to take some time to sit down and chat with me. He told me a piece of his story and ended with words similar to mine, “you could say I have a strange relationship with death too. Want to talk about it?”

Though I needed the help, I skipped the opportunity. 

A friend made an offer for me to move in with him. In many ways, it was what I didn’t know I needed in my life: To live in a house with artists, to make a solid group of guy friends (something I didn’t have many of at the time), and centrally located on campus. It was a very cool opportunity for a young college Michael! Instead, I chose to live on a different campus, one which was in the mountains and allowed me to attend my classes in the open air of Yosemite.

It set me on a notably different path, a different opportunity. 

I had a very busy friend who played sports and was very involved with our school. She had one night off and chose to spend it with me. We had so much fun getting frozen yogurt, walking around our city, and watching the sunrise on top of our university’s cafeteria. This was a girl I was very romantically interested in at the time. But, due to my lack of confidence in that stage of life, I made no romantic move. Honestly, after all the time spent together, I was still unsure if she was even into me. Nevertheless, the clock hit 8 am, and we walked down from our rooftop view. She asked me to meet her at a school event in an hour, giving us time to go home get changed, and return to each other. I said yes. 

Walking back to my place, I convinced myself that this was my moment. No one spends all that time together and asks for more time with them without being interested in them…right? I went back to my apartment, very sleepy. I got dressed in five minutes and decided to lay down for a moment. I told my roommate to wake me up if my alarm didn’t in a half hour. 

Spoiler alert: neither my alarm nor roommate woke me. I missed the opportunity. 

Opportunities come in different forms. The first one would’ve helped a younger me struggling heavily with depression and in mourning from the death of the person who named me. The second seemed like a perfect alignment of a good year of uni. That’s not to say the year I had was poor, but it was drastically different, making an alternate impact on my life. I’m not certain if the girl and I would have enjoyed our version of happily ever after, but I know I didn’t get a chance with her like that ever again. 

Opportunities come and go every day. Some of them are like icebergs; they seem small on top, but they have a huge foundation that will change you. Others are a simple difference between how you’ll enjoy your time over the next hour, day, or year. 

There are many which are pretty easy to seize. They’re right in front of us, yet we make a bone head decision and miss out. Temporary comfort can lull us away from the opportunity we want. 

Some opportunities will be freeing for us. It may happen in a therapy session, over a cup of coffee, or these days during a Zoom meeting. Either way, these opportunities come with open honesty and letting out our truth. These are the ones that may be the most important; they deal with personal growth.
Don’t skip these opportunities. 

Despite all that happened in 2020, still there were people making money, changing their lives, growing in themselves, educating their minds, and taking leaps of faith. I had my fair share of these opportunities in 2020 showing some fluffy passion. However, 2021 is different. I’m making it my goal, my mantra, my focus; my phrase of the year!

This year I am going to search for opportunities and take them. As we rebuild the world, I’ll continue to build myself. I won’t allow myself to sit idly and for an opportunity to come to me. I will search for it and seize every moment of it. 

So, my phrase of the year, join me, please, as I believe it will make a difference in you too:

2021: Search for the Opportunity

I’m Back in the US!…Now what?

It’s December 1st as I start to write this. I’m in Sacramento, California and just a few short months ago, I did not expect to be here. 

Coincidentally, I mentioned to my sister in January that it would be very cool to be with the family this year for the Christmas holiday. You see, because of jobs, traveling, and moving to another state, I physically been with my whole family on Christmas Day in eight years. 

That’s quite the streak if you ask me. 

In that discussion with my sister, I spoke while I was celebrating a birthday on a hike in Wanaka, New Zealand. I knew that in late October of this year, both my brother in law and sister would be celebrating their 40th. (Happy belated birthday!) Our father would be celebrating his 60th in mid December. (Happy early birthday dad). And finally, my 30th would come mid January. 

To me, spending a portion of December celebrating all of those birthdays and a Christmas seemed like the perfect combination! I spoke that idea thinking that I would have a job by then that would pay me enough to afford a round trip flight to California. 

However, plans changed!

Less than two months later, I was enclosed with 27 of the best people to be stuck with during a global pandemic. Stunningly, I didn’t know a single one of them more than a month before we spent lockdown together. Yet somehow, it was perfectly splendid. 

Once the locked ended in New Zealand, I started working. Putting my talents to work for various companies, I was taking my photography to anyone who would look at it. A local wine bar said yes to hosting an exhibition for my art! I found my way into a conversation with a member of the board of directors at the Art’s Centre in Christchurch. After the discussion, we agreed to photography studio operated by me. A studio of my own! What a dream come true.

However, plans changed.

Once I found out I needed to leave New Zealand, it was less than 12 hours that I had a fully fleshed out plan about leaving the country. It didn’t come easily. I spent plenty of time thinking and feeling the stress of booking a flight quickly. I received two potential offers for sponsorship on a working visa and therefore staying in New Zealand. But, just like I mentioned, earlier in the year I spoke my desire to be with my family this holiday. I had a feeling that I would need to be here. My sister was having a baby, and I would very much like to be present for that. 

The idea was come stay with my family through the holidays, then head back to my home in Denver for my birthday. I would search continuously for a job in Alaska, because my next adventure is to be the Pan American Highway, something I’ve spoken about with friends previously. 

However…plans changed.

Now, as I mentioned, I find myself sitting in my sister’s living room in South Sacramento, fully intent on staying in the area until summer; much longer than my original plan. I’ve started a job as a studio photographer. It’s not my studio, but it’s a studio nonetheless! I’m excited. 

I was fortunate to spend Thanksgiving with my family. Within a few days, I’ll be spending my first Christmas with the same loved ones. As I mentioned, it’s the first time since 2012. I don’t know if Santa brings presents at my age. Nevertheless, I’m excited.

As you know by now, I have The Live From Podcast which debuted last week! It’s thrilling for me to create something fresh and new. It’s one thing I didn’t find myself committing to until a friend said, “What are you waiting for, hit the record button now.” Truthfully, I’m excited.


So, to answer the question ‘what IS next?’ Well, right now, to be honest, the answer is both simple and complex, simultaneously. Part of the answer is I don’t fully know. The other part is I’m going to live out the plan I spoke out in January.

Right now, I’m going to be right here.

I had some great things going for me in New Zealand. However, things changed, as they do. Now, I have some different great things going for me in California. 

But I still have my eye on that Pan American Highway…

All Eyes On Me

Sometimes, I think about Jameer Nelson.

It’s okay if you don’t know who he is. He had a better than average career in the NBA that fizzled out slowly over time.

If my memory serves me right, he made the NBA Finals only once in his career. Actually, I know exactly when; it was 2009, I remember because he lost to Kobe Bryant and my favorite team. 🙂 Nevertheless, I remember that particular championship series for more than just my team winning.

What is etched in my memory about him is his famous tattoo. One of the most memorable tattoos in the NBA. On his back, from shoulder to shoulder are the words ”All eyes on me.”

A big tattoo with bold words.

The tattoo is a tribute to 2Pac and also Nelson’s belief in himself. Nelson was never a great player per se. He was never even the best player on any team. Yet still, he believed that all eyes were on him.

. . . . . . .

Not too long ago as I was preparing for my road trip, my friend Emily told me in a serious tone, I need to be very careful calling myself a Christian. She informed me that many people don’t like Christians.

“It’s not your fault, you’re fine.” Emily said to me, “But Christians don’t really make a good name for themselves. And you are associating yourself with them. People are going to watch you closer because of that title.”

It reminds me of another friend, Sarah. Sarah’s great, but she hates chiropractors. She hates chiropractors like a city person hates the country life. She’s never experienced it first hand, she won’t listen to why someone loves living in the countryside, and she’ll never get close enough to learn more about it. She says she’ll never go to a chiropractor because “chiropractors believe in weird things that aren’t right!”

They believe in weird things?

Apparently, she was talking about the chiropractors who believe they can help fight the flu, sinus issues, and other various ailments of the body by adjusting the spine.

Is that weird? We live in an era where we can stand in front of a mysterious box that shoots invisible waves into the body and kills tumors inside. I’m just going to say we’ve come far in medicine, I’m not sure if there are weird ideas that can’t find their way to existence.
I digress.

I’ve gone to chiropractors all my life in different states and countries, yet I have never heard a single chiropractor say that to me. I don’t know if it’s true, but to be honest, I would be inclined to believe it! Every time I get a cold, there is one spot in my spine that starts to hurt just a bit. Each time I feel that pain, I know I need to start drinking more water and take some vitamin C because a cold is coming.

Despite never hearing from the horses’ mouths about these chiropractic wonders, there are apparently a few out there who have said it enough times to negatively affect people. People who’ve never directly heard them say it or experienced it for themselves no longer want to seek chiropractic care of any kind.

I’m no chiropractor, but it seems like there are a few ruining it for the rest of them.

. . . . . . .

I’m going to bring up a former coworker and continue with the long way ‘round to my point.

This coworker learned that I was a Christian and assumed a lot about me. He was probably, one of the most closed-minded persons I’ve ever met. He had this idea that all Christians were the same, had a cookie-cutter upbringing, and believed the exact same things across the world.

Despite me being the Christian, he knew more hymns than I do. He would sing them regularly to mock my faith.

Despite me being the Christian, he was well versed in church history and would demand I apologize to him directly for things like the Crusades, Christian slave owners, and Christian white supremacists.

Despite me being the Christian, he was the one who believed in numerology and had fears of numbers like “666” and was surprised whenever I was chill about the numbers popping up.

Funny how that happened.

. . . . . . .

Listen, I get it. I really do. Christians haven’t been the best people in the world throughout history. Heck, Christians haven’t even the best people during my lifetime. There’s a reason why Gandhi said, “I like your Christ, but your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” Ouch, tell me how you really feel.

Then again, Gandhi wasn’t perfect either. There are plenty of stories about his troubled life. Other religions, nations, scientists, literally any group of people with any time of history weren’t perfect.

Apparently, chiropractors aren’t perfect either.

I believe in the work that chiropractors do. I’ve been going all my life. I’ve been to enough chiropractors around the world to know they aren’t all good at their job. Yet, I still go to them for help because I know I need it.

Unfortunately, instead of letting the individual practitioners each show their knowledge, skills, and helpfulness, people from the general public refuse to go to them. They rather stay away because they heard once, from a friend of a friend, that one of them, somewhere, believed they can help people even more through a different method.

Curse them for trying to be more helpful in a new way, right?

Chiropractors are stuck in a predicament. What should a regular chiropractor who is helping people do?

Should they stop helping people with their spine adjustments?

Should they stop calling themselves a chiropractor in hope that people will see they are not like the others?

. . . . . .

I’ll be honest, I tried that last method for a while.

I was tired of all of it.

Tired of the Christians who protest funerals of fallen soldiers.
Tired of the Christians who believe every Republican candidate is the new Lord and Savior ready to redeem them.
Tired of the Christians who said, “I’m not religious, I’m spiritual.” (I’m not even sure what that means!)

So I stopped calling myself a Christian.

I felt trendy and edgy. I was the “Christian who wasn’t a Christian.” I was going to change the perspective of Christians by no longer being called one. Let them fix their own problems, then maybe I’ll be called that name again.

I can’t remember how long I did this. It was long enough to realize, the problem at the end of my trend wasn’t the name. It was me. No matter what I called myself, I was still making decisions that made other Christians and non-Chrisitan question my belief.

Hundreds of years ago, there was a belief in the Christian faith that you had to look perfect in order to bring yourself to God. Priests and pastors alike who dress in the finest of clothing to ensure they were representing God well enough.

That line of thought led masses of people to believe they need to “clean themselves up” before coming to God. That God wouldn’t want someone like them because they were too dirty, too messy, too unlike what they were seeing from the Church.

Thankfully, some churches have matured since then. If God wanted someone perfect to represent him, he wouldn’t choose me. He wouldn’t choose any human. We’re imperfect.

And that’s kind of the point.

Why did God have three murders write the majority of the Bible?
Why did God have a prostitute listed as one of the greatest persons of faith?
Why did God allow two men who constantly squabbled with each other to be his famous disciples?

Because those are the people he chose. Murderers, prostitutes, testosterone filled man-children, those are the people He wants. Those are the people Jesus hung out with when he was on Earth.

Those people are God’s kind of people

God is trying to say, “Hey, I’ll take them, I’ll take you, I’ll take anybody. Literally, anybody.” That’s the point.

. . . . . .

I appreciate Emily trying to protect me from people who don’t want to associate with Christians. Just like chiropractors, I’m not going to change everything I say I am just because a few of them are messing it up for the rest of us.

If people should want to focus on me because I’m a man of faith let them.

Let them see me struggle and fail, time and time again.
Let them see me get back up after each failure.
Let them see me try, and try again, despite my consistent flaws and poor habits.

Let them place their eyes on me and watch my life.
Let them see how I live, how imperfect I am.
Let them understand that God will take anybody.

Even me.
Even them.

Kobe Bryant, My Hero

The notification one the man’s phone sang a tune.

Apparently, it played the same jingle each time a notification came from the BBC World app because he recognized it immediately without looking at his phone.

Before he pulled it out of his pocket, “Ah BBC World. If it’s from them, you know it’s important!” He said with a chuckle.

He chose to read the notification out loud. When he did, the mood completely changed. “Kobe Bryant dies in aa helicopter accident. Multiple dead.”

My ears perk up. I was merely half-listening before; now he has my full attention.

The man turns to me, “I don’t know who that is. Do you?”

I was in shock, literal shock at the news. This can’t be. Kobe was just tweeting and on Instagram recently. He was happy and healthy with his family.

I quickly grab my phone. This must be some weird joke. My phone’s been on silent, I’ve been missing the notification from apps and friends. It’s true. But I still chose not to believe it.

“Are you sure its Kobe Bryant? Kobe Bean Bryant?” I ask, hoping that the man somehow accidentally said the wrong name.

The man looks at me with concern, “Are you going to be okay? You look visibly upset and shocked.”

I don’t know what condition was in, but I felt genuine confusion and disbelief. Kobe Bryant was just in the news a day ago. There’s no way he’s gone.

In the moment, I gather my breath and chose not to burden the man with my feelings, my oh so many feelings, “Kobe Bryant is one of the greatest basketball players of all time. I was fortunate to have him on my favorite team for 20 years. I don’t think we have enough time for me to explain how much I’ve learned from him. He is my hero.

The man nodded in understanding and left the room.

I sit.
I check multiple sources.
I can’t help the tears beginning to fall.
Kobe is dead. One of my biggest heroes is gone.


Sometimes it is hard to explain the importance of a person in your life.

You could say a partner means the world to you because they provide love and affection.
Or a child can provide you with possibility and a future.
While God can provide purpose and a standard.

However, how do I begin to explain the importance of someone who I’ve never met? It almost seems silly to have allowed me to be influenced by someone so much, even to the point of today’s tears. A person who has never once cried for me. Is it wrong to have such strong feelings for a man who doesn’t know my name or even recognize my face?

Wrong or not, here I am. Broken hearted, shocked, and confused at the passing of Kobe Bryant, I still don’t want to believe it. It feels wrong. I pray for his family and the families of those involved in the accident and hope this is just a bad dream.


Kobe Bryant is one of my heroes for a variety of reasons. I’ve learned so much about basketball from him. I learned how to compete from him. I learned life skills from him.

The most important lesson that Kobe taught me was work ethic. As I grew into adulthood, I realized I had a problem. I don’t know how to consistently work hard. Sure there were people in my life that I worked hard with for a moment, a day, or for a short term goal. I have always been one of those people who is good at everything. I rarely needed to apply any extra effort outside of my casual talent.

I needed to learn how to work hard daily. I needed to learn how to work hard for a goal that is months, or even years away. I needed to see what it is like to work day in and day out on a goal that may take years to achieve. I needed a lesson on how to consistently work to a goal even when I failed time after time.

Kobe showed me that.

With every private gym session that was leaked to the public, with his consistent study of his craft, with his zero tolerance for those who chose not to work hard, Kobe taught me how to give my all in what I do, every day and night.

Work hard daily, never give up until the mission is complete. When you fail one way, try something different. When you see others outperforming you, learn a new trick to step ahead of them. When you finally find success, find a way to push yourself to achieve higher success.

That’s the most important lesson Kobe’s taught me. Every other lesson starts and ends with this one.


I like my heroes to be flawed. You see character in their lows. I remember one of the lowest times in Kobe Bryant’s life. As a fan, I only witnessed a piece of what he went through. He was caught committing adultery, he lost a child in a miscarriage, he lost the NBA finals, he lost some great teammates.

From my perspective, I had never seen a more popular man so alone.

Kobe Bryant showed me even the greats will fail. Some of these failures are bigger than others. Some failures are more public than others. Yet redemption can still be found in every single one.

At this point, he achieved enough success that he could walk away and still be considered a Hall of Fame player. He could start a new life outside of the limelight with less pressure to perform. Instead, he went to work.

Over time he was redeemed. He put in the effort and changed who he was. He showed his teammates a new side and he earned a new appreciation. He mended his broken relationship in his family. He eventually added more championships to his resume for the Los Angeles Lakers.

He owned up to his actions. Admitted his faults. Gave people the time they needed away from him. After taking ownership, he worked hard to gain respect. He worked hard to become someone new. His redemption didn’t happen overnight. It was at least a year of separation from his wife. It was years before he made the championship round again, and more until he actually won. He worked, every day, even when there seemed to be no progress form the day, month, or year before.

He worked hard.

I don’t believe in retirement anymore. One of the reasons why is because of Kobe. Once he walked away from basketball, he completely walked away. He didn’t keep one foot in the past, he moved on, acknowledging one volume of his life is complete. The next volume brought new ideas.

Kobe earned more than enough to sit and enjoy the rest of his life doing whatever he and his family wanted. Yet instead, shortly after he left the NBA, he became a writer and businessman. He started a sports drink company. He won’t prose which eventually turned into an Oscar winning animated short film.

I think that is one of the luxuries of giving your all in one area. You have the freedom to say, that is done, I can now fully give myself to the next stage in life. I can adjust my goals to the moment I’m in and work just as hard before in a new area.

To me, retirement should not exist. Rather, reinvention should take its place. It allows you to keep working hard, keep the mind creative, to constantly be learning.

It’s the lesson Kobe Bryant continually teaches me. Work hard every day on whatever your passion is.

Rest in peace, my hero.
Heroes may die, but legends, and lessons, live forever.

Choose Your Own Adventure!

I was chatting with a friend about my road trip. A couple months driving across New Zealand is kind of all I’m talking about lately. It’s going well! I’m stopping and staying wherever. I’ve been fortunate to do some of it alone, other parts with friends, and other portions with strangers.

Back to my friend. They asked me “Isn’t that scary? All that you’re doing. I don’t think I could do it”

I responded with, “My first time around, it totally was.”

Years ago, I went on a month long road trip around the USA. I briefly mentioned it recent a conversational vlog talking about road trips with Robb G. At the time, I was pretty nervous about it. In fact, I was very nervous about it.

The purpose of the trip was to watch one of my great friends get hitched. It was super important to me to be there, but it as on the other side of the country from where I lived. I did more planning for this trip than I have on any trip before or since.

Though I crossed my T’s and dotted my I’s, I was having trouble committing to the actual trip.

About this time, I was in the “pre-relationship” phase with a girl. I confided in her and confessed my apprehension about the trip. Of course, I made it as light hearted as possible, exaggerating the countless potential downfalls awaiting me at every turn.

Comedy is my coping mechanism.

One of the things I was most nervous about was a particular 11 day stretch. Over the course of those 11 days, I would not see a single person I previously met in my life.

That scared me.

For the most part, you see people you know every day. Friends you hang with, the local market folks who recognize you, or your neighbors. Oh yeah, family too! Going a single day without seeing a single person you know is rather difficult when you think about it.

This isn’t just an extrovert/introvert thing. I’m a social introvert, I prefer the company of a few close friends and regular solitude to recharge. However, 11 days where I would not see a single person I know was unprecedented.

A long period without a community is like a bit purgatory to me.

That was a few years ago, and in my opinion, not even close to the grandest trip that I’ve done. Yet when it comes to trips, I’ve never been more nervous than that one. I think it’s specifically because of those 11 days.

Nevertheless, I still did the trip! I mustered the strength and courage necessary to jump into my red MINI Cooper and drive more than 2,000 miles around the US.

Choosing that adventure, wasn’t easy. In fact, I probably made it harder than it needed to be on myself. I slept in hospital parking lots, truck stops, and camping in different locations throughout the country. I could have stayed in airbnb’s, hostels, or hotels, but I didn’t. I chose a different type of adventure.

Despite my travels and tales, I have trouble believing I’m adventurous.

The aforementioned girl and I dated for some time. Eventually, we ended. I didn’t have the same thirst for adventure as she, which she felt was enough to walk away.

Maybe this is why I don’t believe it when people describe me as adventurous.
Maybe I’ve been choosing adventure to prove to her, and my subconscious self, I am an adventure worth having.
To be real honest, maybe I’m just scared and traveling is my way of constantly running away. Could adventuring  be another word for hiding? A topic for another post.

I don’t hold it against the girl for ending it back then. I’ve definitely had my share of relationships that lacked the adventure I wanted. In those relationships, I felt bored.

Whenever I feel bored, I think of one of my college buddies who always told me, “Only boring people get bored.”

In this “boring” relationship, I remember sitting down with her by my side, her parents sitting on the adjacent couch, and together we watched the Laker game.

If anyone knows me, they know that I love playing and watching sports. The Lakers are one of my favorite teams! I have many great memories embedded in my mind because of them.

Despite doing something I regularly enjoy, I felt bored. I looked around, saw her parents, and used the moment as a forecast for my future with her. I said quietly to myself, “If I stay with this person, this will be my life. I’ll work a 9-5 and come home to a wife who does the same. We’ll talk about our days as we prep a meal. Then she’ll fall asleep next to me as I cheer for my favorite sports teams.”

This seems boring.

That younger version of myself didn’t understand how to choose adventure. Years later, I realized how wrong I was. It definitely took time to see it, but only boring people get bored.

My learning process started with making fun of my best friend Cameron for never leaving a one mile radius of his house. He met a lovely woman and married her right out of college. Together, they chose to start an adventure that’s led them to today where they have three little ladies, two dogs, and a plethora of fish in a tank.

Every day Cameron chooses adventure. He chooses to father his children, to teach the dogs how to sit, and to clean the fish tank.
His life is such an adventure!

My other bestie, Stefan, studied with me at Azusa Pacific. He worked harder than anyone else I knew in school. He lives in Colorado Springs, the town where he grew up. A place where he can drive around and say “I went to this place as a kid.” Despite this city being one where many young people leave for the more popular Denver just an hour’s drive north, he chooses the adventure of staying.

Today, he works hard, as does his wife, to provide and raise a child.
An owner of a house, a married man, with a beautiful baby, Stefan lives a life of adventure.

Somedays, I have to remind myself, I am an adventurous person. (to be honest, I have to remind myself of a variety of things like I am a good photographer, I am a good comedian, I am a good cook.) I just choose adventure that differs from many people’s definition of adventure.

Adventure is where you stretch yourself beyond which you thought was capable.
Adventure is choosing to do the hard thing; the thing that you’re afraid to do, the thing those around you aren’t doing.
Adventure is in the every day.

I’ve learned any person can be adventurous in any stage of their life. Adventure isn’t just climbing a mountain. It isn’t just hiking the Machu Pichu trail with gusto! There is adventure in moving to a new country for some and for others adventure is staying in the same town your were raised.

Choose your own adventure.

2020 Phrase of the Year

Apparently it’s common for people to have a word or phrase of the year.

I’m big on goals for the year, you’ll see a vlog on that later, but a phrase that is supposed to represent you for an entire year. That’s intriguing.

I think it’s a neat idea. You can run big decisions of the year through the filter of the word or phrase. It would help a people keep focused on their phrase of “positivity”, “community”, or any other word they might.

I assume people take a lot of time to thoroughly ensure they have the right word for this point and time in their life.

Alright, I picked mine. Drum Roll Please!

2020 Phrase of the Year: Show Me Some (Fluffy) Passion!
(PG edit because my nephew is 6, and I like to imagine he is an avid reader of his uncle‘s blog.)

Long ago, I read a person’s comment on Reddit about something that changed their life.

Technically, not something, rather, some words. 

They decided they would post the words Show Me Some (Fluffy) Passion in their house. If my memory serves me right, they posted it in their bedroom so they could see it every day.

Each day they woke, read the words reminding them to show passion.

The redditor mentioned after some time, they noticed change in multiple areas of their life.

Work changed because they were reminded to show the passion that once earned him the job. Married life changed because they showed the passion felt instead of letting it sit. Their life changed because they started looking for things they were passionate about and pursuing them.

Humor me for a moment, as I dive into the phrase.

Show Me

Every 20-something year old with a guitar will tell you they’re passionate about music. Others may talk about the outdoors, social justice, and community as their passion.

In many cases, a 30-something year old passion may have live a life directly impacted by their passions. Or they could be discovering their passion for the first time. (I’m a year away from my thirties, and I’m in many ways just learning and pursuing my passions.

For most people 40’s and above family life has really kicked in gear, and the passion of old isn’t the same. It’s changed direction.

The point of the Show Me, is to prove it. A stranger should be able to walk into your life, follow you for a day/week/month and at the end of it say, “You’re passionate about music/family/money.”

To say you’re passionate about a topic is one thing. To go out there and show it is entirely different.



We have the ability to be passionate about a lot of things. What we don’t have is the capacity for showing our full passion in every single category. There’s just not enough time in the day. That’s why some is so important.

Choose a few of your passions to focus on. Some of them will pan out into something greater! Which is very cool. Some of them will not. No worries, a passion doesn’t have to equal a business or amazing performance. If you decide a passion is done, cool, we have another passion that can take its place.

Show some of your passion daily. If your passion is dog walking, Don’t spend 10 hours on dog training once and then be over it for a month. Show some today, some the next day, next week, next month. Get in the habit of continually showing some.

Plan to show it.
Make time on the calendar for it.
When you have free time, study it.

Put some effort into your passion. Otherwise, your passion is just a wish.



If you’re passionate about music make the best music you possibly can. Then grow in the passion and learn more. Get better.

If your job is your passion, walk into work and show yourself. Make you believe again, you are passionate about what you do.

When your passion has a new focus, devote yourself to it. If your passion is those around you, show passion for family by changing as they change. By loving them where they are as they grow to find and chase their passion.

Showing passion isn’t an extravagant moment. It’s daily. It’s a grind. It’s hard.

It’s not going out with the boys because you want to get one more shot of the night sky. It’s not finding ways to leave work early, but learning ways to better employment. It’s learning the more about why the heck your child is excited about seeing a penguin in Minecraft.




Now, I shouldn’t have to explain what this word really was when the person wrote it. It’s what I like to call a “heightening” word.

It emphasizes anger, excitement, disappointment, shock, horror. It takes the feelings of wherever its placed to the next level.

Some of you need to add more fluffy to your pursuit of passion. Heighten your pursuit. Go to the next level. Don’t stay in one spot with your passion, until it’s time to set the passion aside.

So seek help. In our Information Age, there are too many resources available for you to stop learning.
Google exists.
YouTube exists.
Pinterest exists.
The information is ripe for your picking. Go out there a fluffy do it!

Get on yourself and do it. Amp yourself up.  Heighten your focus. Get in there and fluffy work.


Passion is like abs. You have them. You can’t tell me you don’t, because all of us do. Some of us are just learning where they are and how to show them. Others of us have been showing them off for years and posting pictures on Instagram of them. Some of us forgot we have them when we stopped pursuing them and lost them under thick layers of laziness.

Nevertheless, our abs and passion are there.


So this is my 2020 Phrase of the Year: Show Me Some Fluffy Passion.

I’m hitting the point in my life, where I need to be pursuing these passions. Pursue, lest I forget I have them. Pursue daily, a grind that allows me to grow in them; grow with them.

These passions are mine. They were given to me and are my responsibility. No one else has passions exactly like mine.


Once more:

Show. Me. Some. Fluffy. Passion.

The Expat Experience

Let me be the first to tell you, I LOVE BEING ON A PODCAST.

Seriously, it’s like one of my favorite things to do! You put together the plan, you go through the process, you practice the questions, then when you’re finally ready, you record the podcast.

So. Much. Fun.

Podcasts have taken the world by storm and it seems like everyone has one they want to recommend! I was at dinner the other day with a friend, and during a short pause, he looked at me quite seriously and asked, “What podcasts are you listening to?”

In this particular dinner, I mentioned The Expat Experience.

As an expat myself, I enjoy hearing other expat stories and being encouraged by what they say! I am so very fortunate, to have been a guest for 2 of such type of podcasts: Melanated Stamps, a podcast about American minorities traveling abroad. The other is The Expat Experience.

The Expat Experience was started by Amelia J., a Canadian who is currently living in Germany. When she posted in a digital nomad facebook group about starting a podcast, I leaped at the opportunity to add a topic that should be discussed, loneliness. Amelia agreed that it was a good topic and asked me to join the podcast for a discussion.

Here it is:

Wasn’t that great? Yeah! I think so too.

I’ve had many conversations with people about living abroad. As Amelia mentions, loneliness is a bit of a taboo topic amongst expats and nomads. But why?

Maybe because we’re supposed to be having the ‘time of our lives’?
Maybe because if admit to feeling lonely, we’re admitting defeat and therefore need to go back home?
Maybe because we don’t have a deep connection of friends to confess our true feelings?

Whatever the reason may be, I fully believe expression of truth allows for one to grow and be free.

I had a chance recently to visit with a man I consider to be a mentor. Let me rephrase that, he visited me! Here! IN NEW ZEALAND!! Conversing with him, seeing him, and hugging him was so warming to the soul.

He brought up another acquaintance who’s doing a journey from Cape Town to Cairo in Africa right now. I’m not sure what inspired him to do that kind of journey, but that is awesome. My mentor looked at me and asked me, “It’s gotta be lonely, right? This life that you guys have chosen.”

My answer: “Yes, all the time.”

They say everybody is fighting their own battle, so be kind because you don’t know what they are fighting. I can tell you right now, most expats and nomads are fighting loneliness.

This isn’t a post about “Woe is me! I’m so lonely in another country.”
This is an awareness post.

Depending on who you are, I want you to take away something from this podcast and post.

  • If you’re an expat feeling lonely, know you’re not alone. Plenty of expats and nomads around you are going through the same thing. It’s going to be okay. I promise! But you NEED to reach out to someone and open up. You don’t need to divulge every detail of your life, but be honest enough to say, I am struggling in this moment.
    Even if the burden you’re carrying is shared with someone who is also a nomad, and will leave your location in a hour/week/month, having the weight lifted off your shoulders for a moment is better than holding on to it alone longer than you need.
  • If you’re a person who has a friend living their dream abroad! Call them. Call them now. I don’t care what time it is, do it. They miss you. Conversations you have, don’t always have to be hours long. There is something precious about receiving a spontaneous text, voicemail, call that says, I’m just here to make sure you’re okay.
    Whether they confess their feelings to you or not, call them. Then do it again in a month. They’ll appreciate it.

  • If you’re about to start your journey prepare yourself. Send a message to your friends asking for their help before you need it. In fact, proof that I practice what I preach, this is what I wrote to my friends who named ourselves the #DolphinGang: (Yes, even in post with my friends, I am referred to, and I refer to myself, as Oneandonlynunez 🙂
    Don’t be discouraged, you’re going to ROCK THIS LIFESTYLE.

We’re not meant to live this life alone, support each other!